By Charlie Fink
I read my preview copy of Matthew Ball’s new book about The Metaverse with great relish. It is an instant classic in the burgeoning field of Metaverse Studies. Ball has set himself a monumental task. In order to explain the Metaverse, he has to explain the history of the personal computer, the internet, mobile phones, networks, cable infrastructure, streaming, games, game consoles, and virtual and augmented reality. Because the Internet and what comes after it represents the convergence of business, history, and technology, intertwined like a golden braid, no technology, and few companies, go unmentioned.
The Metaverse is detailed, meticulously researched, and dense with observations and insight. I read it twice, just to make sure I scooped up every gem within it. As this is a book about the past as much as book about the future, Ball begins the introduction with the story of Vannevar Bush, who theorized that an electromechanical device, which he called a Memex (memory extender), could store all books, records, and communications, and mechanically link them together by keyword association, rather than traditional hierarchical storage models, predicting hypertext fifty years before its creation. This is the characteristic style of the book. Ball makes a point, and where he doesn’t have data, he has history and stories about what came before, before the Internet even, when computers, like the Metaverse today, were ideas waiting to manifest.
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